On September 25, 2135, an asteroid called Bennu will make a close flyby of Earth. Our planet’s gravity will tweak Bennu’s path, making it a challenge to calculate its future trajectory. During the flyby, there is an extremely small chance that Bennu will pass through a “gravitational keyhole” – a region of space that would set it on just the right path to impact Earth, late in the 22nd century.
Although it is difficult to determine the odds of this actually happening, new data from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft have allowed scientists to better model how Bennu’s orbit will evolve over time, and to better calculate the probability of an impact. Now, a new paper from the OSIRIS-REx science team gives Bennu a 1:2700 (0.037%) chance of impacting Earth on September 24, 2182.